Problems establishing the wormery

If you are having problems with an existing wormery, or just need some advice - then ask it here
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gale
Junior Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2019 1:01 am

Problems establishing the wormery

Post by gale » Thu Jun 20, 2019 1:21 am

I am having some problems getting established …

I originally set up my wormery just before the Easter weekend, so nine weeks ago, and almost immediately I had increasing problems with sour crop/protein poisoning. In desperation two weeks ago I went through the whole tray and removed all remaining food and yet more dead worms that hadn't gone to the surface or sump to die. I fluffed up all the bedding/vermicompost and added loads more shredded cardboard, then left everything to recover. Happily this seems to have done the trick - I haven't seen any dead or dying worms for a week now, the few surviving worms are eating the very small amounts of food I've started feeding again, and today the "good" smell is back.

However, I am wondering if/when I should add new worms having seemingly lost most of the original batch. There are now so few worms remaining that I rarely see one except a bit of "tail" as a worm dives for cover when I remove the cardboard covering. This is a distinct contrast to earlier when there were plenty of less shy worms around, and as a herd they aren't making any dent in my kitchen waste which for me defeats the purpose of having a wormery. Should I go ahead and order another 500g of worms (after careful study of the weather forecast) and new/additional bedding?

And what went wrong to cause all these problems? There was no bad smell. The bedding was not too wet or too dry (according to George Pilkington's definitions), but chocolate cake-like. My cheap pH and moisture probe showed both as comfortably MOR. The wormery has been mostly kept in the utility room (unheated, single-storey and on the north-east side of a double-storey Victorian flint terrace so definitely not too hot!) All food fed was standard kitchen scraps from the "approved" list. I fed small amounts every couple of days, using the four-corners system. Most of the time until the last few weeks there were healthy-looking worms on the surface when the bin was opened, and in recent weeks I have seen eggs and even some baby worms. All of which seemed like good signs. I even had virtually no escapees.

There were also some less positive events. The delivery transit period spanned the three quite hot days heading into Easter: I was notified by Parcelforce that they would deliver at the start of the second day, but they didn't turn up and the explanation I was given on the third day suggested that the worms spent the whole of the second day in a hot van. Right from the start, feeding any more of the supplied food than a tiny sprinkling of the grain seemed to exacerbate the problem. Then in late May I decided it was time to move the worms outside to a shady north-facing wall and that night the temperature went down to 8.5C - I moved them back inside the next day, but this might have been a shock after indoor overnight temperatures of 12-15C. Also, when going through the tray I came across a number of what I can only describe as petrified worm knots (as if a worm contorted itself into a pyramid shape to die and then petrified instead of disintegrating). AFAIK nothing resembling these went into the wormery, so where did they come from? I discarded them as part of the big clean up just in case.

All advice gratefully received. Thanks.

WillyWorm
Senior Member
Posts: 407
Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2015 9:10 am

Re: Problems establishing the wormery

Post by WillyWorm » Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:42 am

Hi gale. What a sad story.
If your problem related to the delayed delivery it would of shown up immediately and all would be well by now.
Your management of your worms seems great. The bin location and feeding routine sound fine.
I think I would start again. Healthy worms will quickly replace the existing casting you have . I would empty the bin and dispose of its contents, give it a good clean and replace all the bedding with moist new bedding. Leave it’s to settle for a few days then order new worms.
Sorry not to be of more help
Please keep us updated
Willy

gale
Junior Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2019 1:01 am

Re: Problems establishing the wormery

Post by gale » Thu Jun 20, 2019 1:32 pm

Thanks, Willy. So I dump the current contents in the garden, surviving worms and all?

WillyWorm
Senior Member
Posts: 407
Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2015 9:10 am

Re: Problems establishing the wormery

Post by WillyWorm » Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:42 pm

I think in this case a fresh start is the best way. Please let us know how it goes.

Willy

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